By Monique Harrison

Daily Journal

The Lee County School Board voted Tuesday to transfer Mooreville High School principal Joe Loden to the assistant principal post at Verona School.

Loden replaces Nicholas Umber, who was recently named to replace retired Federal Programs Coordinator Buddy Ramage.

Mooreville High School assistant principal Robert Smith will serve as interim principal for the remainder of the year.

The vote on the transfer was 3-0, with board member Tom Lyles abstaining. Board member Donald Monoghan was out of town.

Lyles said he abstained on the vote because he felt a minority applicant should have been appointed.

“I don’t want to transform this into a purely racial issue,” Lyles said after the meeting. “But when we have qualified black applicants, they should be considered and considered seriously. In this particular case, there could have easily been a black appointment because the qualified black applicant was there but was overlooked.”

Lyles, who is black, stopped short of saying district officials did not hire candidates because of their race.

“I certainly would not like to think that being black hurt someone’s chances of getting a job in this district,” the board member of six years said. “But obviously, there is a flaw in our selection process and something needs to be done to rectify that.”

There are currently no black administrators in the district’s nine schools. There is a black principal at the junior high level within Shannon High School. There is also a black assistant principal at Shannon Elementary.

Loden said he requested the transfer and was excited by the prospect of doing something new.

“I felt it was time for a change,” said Loden, who has been at Mooreville for 10 years and with the district for 28 years. “This is a good opportunity for me and I went for it.”

In other business, the board voted to amend its policy on out-of-district students whose parents work within the district.

In the past, students whose parents are employed by Lee County Schools have been allowed to attend school anywhere in the district. Now, they will only be allowed to attend the school where their parent or guardian attends. They still have the option of attending school in their home district.

The board also:

-Named Greg May the new football coach at Guntown School. May will replace the retiring Doc Gullett. Before receiving official appointment, May must meet qualifications for certification.

– Approved a $2,391 quote for 30 new graphing calculators for Shannon High and Mooreville High. The calculators are needed for statewide Algebra I testing this spring. Saltillo High already had graphing calculators, which were paid for with Tech-Prep funds provided by the state.

-Voted to accept a request for $1,330 for the addition of an alarm system at Saltillo Elementary. A portion of the school is currently unprotected by the system.

– Approved Shannon High School’s purchase of a $1,547 computer to be used in the library, with money coming from school funds.

– Voted to move the next school board meeting to March 19, so a meeting will not be scheduled during spring break.

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